How Shea Butter Can Help You Achieve Gorgeous Skin

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Shea butter is a fat extracted from the nut of the shea tree (Vitellaria paradoxa), famous for its high fatty acid content, primarily oleic acid, stearic acid, linoleic acid, and palmitic acid. These fatty acids play key roles in managing certain body functions like controlling inflammations, renewing cells, and maintaining vascular health.


While it can be eaten and used as a cooking oil as long as it is 100 percent pure and unrefined, shea butter is more popular as an ingredient in beauty products like moisturizers and lotions. This is because shea butter melts at body temperature, making it easier and comfortable to apply, and is also absorbed rapidly by the skin.


But apart from these rather simple properties, why is shea butter such a popular ingredient for beauty products, like Skinfood’s range of hand and foot creams, lotions, lip balms, and body oils? Let’s take a look.


Shea Butter is a Natural Emollient

What makes the body respond well to shea butter is that its biochemical properties resemble that of the human body’s natural moisturizers produced by the sebaceous glands. Shea butter is also a naturally occurring lipid, making it a natural (and powerful) emollient. You can apply 100 percent pure shea butter onto your skin like a lotion or use products that use it as an ingredient  if you don’t like the slightly smoky, nutty smell of unprocessed shea butter. Either way, shea butter will work wonders to moisturize and soften skin that’s prone to roughness, dryness, and scaling or flaking.


Shea Butter can Smooth Out Wrinkles

There are many ways that shea butter can help with healing and preventing the further formation of wrinkles. For one, shea butter forms a protective barrier on the skin, shielding it from elements like pollution, sunlight (shea butter contains low levels of SPF), and harsh winds which can all contribute in the premature development of fine lines and wrinkles. Shea butter also contains high amounts of vitamins A and E; the former aids in faster, more efficient cellular turnover and collagen production, while the latter moisturizes, nourishes, and further protects the skin from both external and internal elements. If the skin is has sufficient collagen and moisture, it is less likely to develop wrinkles and has an easier time to recover from such damage.


Because of these properties, shea butter can also be used to minimize the appearance of stretch marks caused by pregnancy. Just smooth liberal amounts of shea butter onto the areas where stretch marks usually appear, like the belly, hips, thighs, and even under the breasts, even before your start to “show.” Applying shea butter will help increase your skin’s elasticity and thus reduce the likelihood of developing deep stretch marks.


Shea Butter has Antibacterial and Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Raw shea butter is rich in vitamins A and E, anti-inflammatory agents like cinnamic acid, and antimicrobial components like catechins. All of these combined help reduce swelling, redness, and irritations caused by skin conditions like rosacea, dermatitis, and eczema, speed up the healing of wounds, and reduce the appearance of blemishes. And because shea butter is easily absorbed and can penetrate deeper into the skin, its effects can be experienced faster.


Additionally, the vitamin content of shea butter can also help with the management and treatment of acne, reducing overall redness and eventual scarring or skin darkening. It is also gentle enough to use on the lips and the delicate area around the eyes, should these areas suffer from inflammation and/or dryness.


African women have been using shea butter for various medicinal and personal care purposes as early as the 14th century. This just proves that shea butter is not a fad — it’s an effective and natural ingredient that will help make your skin healthier and look more beautiful than ever. 

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